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Selfridges owners considering £4bn sale

Lauretta Roberts
10 June 2021

The owners of iconic department store group Selfridges are reported to be considering a £4bn sale of the business.

According to multiple media reports the Weston family has drafted in advisers from Credit Suisse to investigate the possibility of a sale following an unsolicited bid from an unknown suitor.

It is understood that the £4bn price tag includes £2bn of property assets including the historic flagship store on London's Oxford Street.

Any sale would also include branches of Selfridges in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Dublin.

The Weston family, who hail from Canada, took Selfridges private in 2003 in a £598m deal after seeing off rival bidders Sir Tom Hunter and Robert Tchenguiz. That deal was led by by WG Galen Weston, who died in April aged 80.

His daughter Alannah took charge of the Selfridges Group two years ago and has been the creative force behind Selfridges since the family took over.

While the Westons have extracted £580m in dividends from Selfridges, they have ploughed millions into the business over the past 18 years keeping it at the forefront of luxury retail and latterly etail.

Its latest available accounts to February 2020 reveal a 7% rise in sales to £1.97bn in the while operating profits fell by 10% to £88 million.

Known for its experiences, Selfridges emerged from the pandemic with a raft of new initiatives including outdoor spinning classes and a rooftop bar.

Its London store has secured a license to stage weddings with a difference this summer while it has also launched a new online fashion rental service.

Recent major investments in Oxford Street include the opening of a cinema and a vast accessories hall complete with a Champagne bar at its heart.

Speculation is mounting about the identity of the mystery buyer with French luxury conglomerate LVMH, while already owns Le Bon Marche department store in Paris, among those believed to be a possibility.

However any buyer could well come from either China or the Middle East. Qatar Holdings acquired fellow London landmark department store Harrods in 2010.

Selfridges was founded by American Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1908, who was believed to have coined the phrase "the customer is always right".

The business was expanded to include smaller provincial stores but these were sold in the 1940s to the John Lewis Partnership. In 1951, the original Oxford Street store was acquired by the Liverpool-based Lewis's chain of department stores. Lewis's and Selfridges were then taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group, owned by Charles Clore.

Under Sears regional branches of Selfridges were opened in Manchester (one in the Trafford  Centre and one in Exchange Square) and Birmingham. The Westons then bought the business in 2003.

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